By Ruth QuinnJanuary 24, 2014
Massachusetts in January is generally pretty bleak and on this day in history the mood was somber as well. The troops formed on Rogers Field and the color guard encased the colors of the 112th Military Intelligence Brigade. It was the end of an era… or was it? Units have long and storied histories which are often interrupted by a "down time." It has to do with mission requirements, or national budgets, or downsizing, or a combination of the above. In the case of the 112th, it wasn't the first time the unit had been inactivated, and it wouldn't be the last.
The 112th began its existence way back in 1946 as the 112th Counter Intelligence Corps detachment in Dallas, Texas and was assigned to the Fourth Army. At the time, the detachment consisted of 16 officers, six warrant officers, and 26 enlisted men. The mission was counterintelligence in the Zone of the Interior (inside the United States) in a region that included New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
The 112th changed names a few times after that, becoming the 112th Counter Intelligence Corps Group in 1957, the 112th Intelligence Corps Group in 1961, and the 112th Military Intelligence Group in 1966. On June 30, 1974, the unit encased its colors for the first time at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
On the day the MI Corps was born, July 1, 1987, the 112th was reborn as a Military Intelligence Brigade (Training) and activated at Fort Devens, Massachusetts under the Training and Doctrine Command. It was a warmer day this time, as flags flew and nearly 1000 Soldiers from the US Army Intelligence School, Devens participated in the festivities of the activation of both their new Corps and their newest Brigade. Units participating included the 1st and 2nd Battalions from Fort Devens, the 3rd Battalion from Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, the Pensacola Detachment from Corry Station, Florida, the Consolidated Reserve Component of the 505th MI Company, 10th Special Forces Group Combat Intelligence Company, and a Tactical Platoon. The Brigade took as its mascot the Great Horned Owl as a symbol of wisdom, secrecy, and strength. This mighty bird operates at night with exceptional hearing, keen eyesight and silent flight -- all representative of the mission of the Soldiers to be trained at the new 112th MI Brigade.
In 1991, the 112th MI Brigade provided direct support to Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, including Arabic language mobile training teams to XVIII Airborne Corps, combat intelligence training to 14 Arab-surnamed US Army personnel, combat intelligence and combat skills training to 353 Kuwaiti citizens (Operation DESERT OWL). In addition, several of the unit's graduates of Advanced Individual Training went straight from the schoolhouse to the foxhole, deploying to Southwest Asia immediately upon graduation.
Nevertheless, the needs of the Army were changing and the constraints of a tight budget precipitated a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process directed by Congress later that year. As a result of this BRAC, Fort Devens began to execute what it called "ExPlan MI West" -- the implementation plan for the realignment of the US Army Intelligence School Fort Devens to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The plan had to be completed no later than December 1994. It was a multi-level plan that included the inactivation of the 112th MI Brigade (Training) and the relocation of its 305th and 306th MI Battalions and their subordinate companies from Fort Devens to Fort Huachuca, aligning them with the 111th MI Brigade. Additionally, the 344th MI Battalion in Texas and the Detachment at Corry Station, Florida, had to be reassigned to the 111th MI Brigade. The Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy training detachments at Fort Devens were and relocated to Fort Huachuca, as was the NCO Academy.
The "discontinuation ceremony" at Fort Devens may have been a somber moment in history, but it was not the end of the story. The US Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca welcomed the personnel and functions of the 112th MI Brigade under their new command, and an entirely new training area was built to accommodate the newcomers -- the area now known as Prosser Village. But it also was not the end of the story for the 112th.
On September 26, 2000, the 112th MI Brigade (Provisional) was reactivated at Fort Huachuca as part of a realignment of Soldiers that were already assigned to the post. It included the 304th MI Battalion, the 306th MI Battalion, B Company (MI Officer Basic Course) of the 309th MI Battalion, and the NCO Academy. All MI officer, warrant officer, and senior noncommissioned officer courses at the Intelligence Center were consolidated under one commander. According to Colonel Susan Browning, Chief of Staff of the US Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, the action was taken "to optimize and economize operations here at Fort Huachuca."
The realignment had a short life, however. Under the direction of Brigadier General John Custer, the Intelligence Center underwent another major reorganization in 2003. The 112th once again was forced to encase its colors as all training responsibilities except the NCO Academy were consolidated back to the 111th MI Brigade. In the end, the 112th MI Brigade will likely live again, in whatever form is required, whenever the needs of the Army dictate.